Family Affair
Mississippi Magazine|November - December 2020
The population of Shady Grove increases by hundreds each Thanksgiving as the Wasson family descendants gather for food and fellowship.
KELLI BOZEMAN

What started as a simple hunting trip for two brothers has turned into a 60-year holiday tradition for one close-knit Mississippi family.

It was 1960, and David Edmund Wasson and his brother William “Billie” Wasson were planning to travel to their childhood home in Shady Grove to hunt deer during the Thanksgiving. Their wives, Evelyn and Sally, decided that if they wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving with their husbands, they would have to take it there. When David and Billie’s mother, “Mama Bessie” Wasson, heard about the excursion, she packed up her own Thanksgiving meal and invited all the other extended family members who had been headed for her house to join her.

That impromptu gathering quickly became a yearly ritual. Mama Bessie and her husband Zachariah Alexander Wasson, known as “Papa Zack,” had raised nine children in this humble home, along with six more children from Papa Zach’s first marriage. As those children started families, the Wasson family tree grew.

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